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Germany Finds Dioxin in Pork and Poultry

January 11, 2011

A hen is pictured at a chicken farm in the western town of Wuppertal, Germany,German authorities said on Tuesday the highly toxic chemical dioxin had been discovered in pork in addition to poultry products, which would expand the scope of a current health alert.

German and European Union authorities are dealing with an alert that started on January 3 when German officials said dioxin-tainted feed had been fed to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs and poultry meat at the affected farms.

Authorities in the northern state of Lower Saxony said on Tuesday pork from one pig farm had shown dioxin levels above permitted levels and that several hundred pigs on the farm had been slaughtered and the meat disposed of.

Samples of pig meat on another farm had shown dioxin levels at around permitted levels, the state said.

Prosecutors in Germany are investigating the cause of the contamination and specifically whether industrial fats and feeds company Harles and Jentzsch distributed fatty acids meant for industrial paper production to animal feed processors.

NEW EU DIOXIN CHECKS

Meanwhile, the association of EU animal feed makers Fefac said on Tuesday it was developing a new plan to monitor dioxin in the feed fat supply chain which it hoped to have drafted by the end of January.

"Although the German authorities consider fraud at the fat blending plant which mixed technical fats in feed fats as the most plausible road of the contamination, we as customers, must take all necessary and effective action which can help preventing such incidents in the future," said Fefac president Patrick Vanden Avenne in a statement.

"In our view, this would require a combination of an industry-own structured monitoring plan and specific legal requirements for the approval of fat blending plants."

Fefac also repeated its call for the strict physical separation of industrial/technical fat production from food fat output.

"All premises having a separate "non-feed" related activity on the same site, must be seen as high risk plants and controlled accordingly," Avenne said.

EU officials said on Monday some tainted animal feed had been exported to France and Denmark. South Korea has restricted imports from Germany because of the affair, and Russia has said it may also take action.

EU WELCOMES GERMAN ACTION

On Tuesday German officials briefed their EU counterparts in Brussels on the latest developments. An EU Commission spokesman said the member states welcomed Germany's handling of the crisis but there were still questions to be answered by Germany on the precise cause of the contamination.

German prosecutors investigating the contamination have already said they may bring criminal charges.

A German parliament committee is also due to discuss tougher safety controls on the animal feed industry.

Russia, an important customer for German meat exports, said on Tuesday it would hold talks with a German minister on January 19 about the affair.

Dioxins are formed by burning waste and through other industrial processes and have been shown to contribute to increased cancer rates and affect pregnant women.

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